I LIVE BY MIRACLE !
We are delighted to announce that yesterday, 21 September 2015, the sale of Blake’s Cottage was completed by the lawyers and the building is now held in trust for the nation in perpetuity.
Our thanks to everyone in the Blake community who have given their work, time and savings to the project. Over half a million pounds was raised, a new charitable trust set up, and for the very first time there is now a home for William Blake.
The story began long ago on a summers day in 1993 when I was having tea in the garden of the Cottage with Heather Howell, whose family had owned the building since 1928. Our talk turned to the future of the Cottage and how her wish was that one day her home should go into trust for all those who are inspired by Blake.
It took 22 years.
As you may imagine, the process of raising over half a million pounds from the Blake community – many of whom eschew money – would never be easy. Many doubted it could ever be achieved, but with the individual gifts of many hundreds of donors and the extraordinary generosity of one anonymous trust, the Cottage has been purchased.
William Blake lived in nine houses during his lifetime and only two survive – the house at 17 South Molton Street in London and the cottage in Felpham on the Sussex coast. The Cottage is where Blake wrote the poem ‘And Did Those Feet …’ while he was awaiting his trial for Treason, and so there is a special irony in how this radical poem Jerusalem has become a national anthem, a hymn to dissent and a song that challenges both the Singer and the State.
Mr Blake thanks you.
Chair of The Blake Society
Blake’s Cottage’s journey continues, as your generosity multiplies. We have now raised over £500k towards creating a home for the imagination in William Blake’s Cottage on the Sussex coast.
Your donations keep on flowing in…
…And the Circumference still expands going forward to Eternity.
Tyger, tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night … To see a World in a Grain of Sand and a Heaven in a Wild Flower…
Everyone knows William Blake, but today many people have forgotten that poets do things. Blake was put on trial for sedition when he rebuked a British soldier. He developed his own printing method because his poetry and images were too radical for traditional publishers to print. Poets transform reality. They are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
We want Blake’s Cottage to celebrate artists doing things and making things – challenging their societies and the world around them.
There are 3 ways you can support the project financially : through JustGiving (which is most tax efficient for UK donors), through a cheque made out to the Blake Society and sent to our registered address (The Blake Society, St James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL, UK), and by text donation through your mobile phone.
On a mobile phone for example by texting FEET11 £1 to 70070 you donate 1 pound to the campaign, or by texting FEET11 £5 you donate 5 pounds – you can select the donation to be any amount between £1 and £5, or £10.
Blake died in poverty and you too may have little to give, but there is something of infinite value you can donate – your friendship. Tell your friends, share this campaign with your colleagues, announce it on social media and out across the world!
If you have any questions then please contact our chair Tim Heath by email email@example.com or phone Tim on 079 106 73 114
William Blake was a visionary poet and painter, and one of the most radical thinkers Britain has ever seen. Today his works are read, studied and loved all around the world but other than a handful of museum collections, nowhere in Britain celebrates his extraordinary craftmanship and creativity.
Blake’s Cottage in Felpham, West Sussex is where he discovered ‘England’s Green and Pleasant Land’ yet it was also where he was arrested and tried for Sedition.
We are raising this money to save and protect the Cottage in perpetuity. Time is of essence.
With your support this beautiful building will become a centre that celebrates Blake, and welcomes visitors, poets, artists and scholars to continue his legacy, creating new work that would honour his claim, ‘The Imagination is not a State: it is The Human Existence itself’.
Blake’s Cottage campaign is endorsed by Sir Andrew Motion, Philip Pullman, Stephen Fry, Tracy Chevalier, Russell Brand, Alan Moore, Cosmo Sheldrake, Jeremy Reed, Gary Lachman, James Harpur, Andrea McLean, Guy Pearson, Neil Gaiman, Chris Orr, and You.
Our plan for the Cottage has multiple stages – but to begin, we first have to acquire this building. It has been privately owned by one family since 1928. If sold to another private owner, there is no way of knowing when it will ever be available again.
William Blake lived in nine houses during his lifetime. Of these only two survive, a small Georgian house in London and a cottage on the Sussex coast. It was while living here by the ocean that he wrote the words for the hymn Jerusalem.
In many ways, we have been working towards this project from the beginning. The Blake Society was formed in 1985 to bring William Blake to the centre of our culture. From the start, we have made it a priority to try to monitor his surviving homes so we might seize the opportunity to put them into public ownership. The Society holds a number of events throughout the year and is one of the most active literary societies in the UK. We invite speakers from both academic and non-academic backgrounds – scholars, artists, authors, anyone who may throw a different light on our appreciation of Blake’s legacy. We try to organize our events with creativity & vision and they often go beyond the formal structure of a lecture. We aim at providing windows into the historical contexts of Blake’s life and work; and to challenge our audiences to examine their lives and the world through an imagination as incisive and revolutionary as Blake’s.
Blake came from the dissenting tradition. During his lifetime, the dissenters were men and women who left the Church of England, and opposed state involvement in religious faith. They protested against repressive law, and sought to create their own religious societies. They argued for a fair economy and a heaven on this earth.
Blake’s poetic mythology shows how these struggles for freedom can be a rich and varied source of creativity. The dissenting imagination is engaged with the impact of political and religious institutions on everyday life. Artists fueled by it question the structures of our society and challenge both the limitations imposed by laws and the internal constraints of our ‘mind-forg’d manacles’. Their work continues to engage with struggles at the heart of society today.
The Cottage is to be an exemplar of a way to live a life through courage and creativity. We are inviting support from everyone who is strengthened by the knowledge that somewhere in the world such a place exists; a home for the prophetic imagination in England’s Green and Pleasant Land.
The Cottage will be a refuge for everyone who asks great questions – the outsiders, the prophets and the visionaries.
People will be able to stay in the Cottage and in turn the Cottage will emanate their creativity back into the world. Its programme may include a space to function as a House of Refuge for persecuted writers. It will offer Blakean events and it will also welcome visitors.
Our aim is to raise the purchase price and put the Cottage into a charitable trust to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the nation. So far we have raised our funds through gifts and pledges from Local Government, Grant Giving Trusts, Individual donors and our crowdfunding appeal on Indiegogo (that has now closed).
Blake championed the imagination so we want to raise this money imaginatively. Since Jerusalem is sung up and down the country and known by millions, we would like to invite everyone each to give a small amount (through one of the means of donation described at the top of the page), then the Cottage will belong to everyone for the benefit of the nation – and the only nation is the imagination.
If you would like to help beyond simply donating, then please email our chair Tim Heath firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 079 106 73 114
Further Study : if you would like to learn more about the life and work of William Blake, then a good biography that organises the story of his life into chronological periods can be found here
Legal Note : The Blake Society was set up in 1985 and is is a registered charity. All the monies raised (whether through JustGiving or Indiegogo or by cheque or via mobile phone donation) go into a designated charity bank account unique to this appeal. If the money raised should exceed the sum needed to buy the Cottage then any excess funds will be applied to the renovation and refurbishment of the Cottage. If the appeal should fail to reach the sum needed to buy the Cottage then all the monies donated will be used to enable occasional public access to the Cottage or to Blake’s other surviving residence in London or to leverage a loan to complete the purchase. The lawyers advising the campaign are Bircham Dyson Bell, one of the leading law firms in the UK.